Compton Rejects Parent Petition for Charter School Takeover

The fate of the law is uncertain as it's considered by a new State Board of Education appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

By Julianne Hing Feb 23, 2011

The Compton school board unanimously rejected a petition that parents at McKinley Elementary School delivered in December demanding that the public school be shut down and taken over by a charter school company.

The board ruled last night that the petition didn’t comply with state regulations which require parents to undergo a thorough review process before choosing their preferred charter school company. Charter schools are publicly financed, independently run schools. McKinley parents chose Celerity Educational Group.

"The petition is materially non-qualifying and is being returned as insufficient," the board found, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Teresa Watanabe reports on the myriad discrepancies CUSD found with the submitted petition:

Compton officials reported Tuesday that they were unable to verify parent signatures representing 50% of the 442 students they said were officially enrolled at McKinley at the time the petition was submitted Dec. 7. The district said it could confirm only 250 of the 275 students named on the petition as actually enrolled at the time.

Among those students, district officials found potential problems with the parent signatures for more than 70. In 26 cases, the district had no school records to compare the signatures of the petitioner and the parent of record. In 29 cases, the signatures "appear to be inconsistent" with the school file, the district said. In addition, eight signatures belonged to someone other than the student’s legal parent or guardian, and 10 parents indicated they would not participate in the district’s verification process.

At a press conference today organized by Parent Revolution, parents vowed to keep fighting for a charter school takeover. "We’re not giving up," said Shamika Murphy, whose child is enrolled in McKinley Elementary, the AP reported. "I need my daughter to get the education she needs now, not in five years. We’re ready for the fight."

"We intend to have an open and transparent parent engagement process that includes every parent, not a chosen group of parents who are organized and persuaded to take a specific action," Compton Unified’s acting superintendent Karen Fritson told the AP. "What our students don’t need, and what our district must avoid, is a chaotic situation that becomes overblown by the emotions of adults."

McKinley parents’ effort was the first test of a brand new Parent Empowerment law which allowed parents of schools designated in the lowest-performing 10 percent to call for a public school to be shut down and replaced with a reorganized public school or a charter school if they could deliver at least 50 percent of parents’ signatures. The controversy has led to protests, a lawsuit, and intervention from the State Board of Education after parents on both sides alleged misconduct while the signatures were being collected. The fate of the law is uncertain as it’s considered by a new State Board of Education appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.